Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Oslo Glaucous!

I was brought up to understand that a yellow circle in a weather forecast implied that one would see the sun. I have over years realised that this might be the case with weather forecasts in England but that in Norway it has a completely different meaning – in fact it generally means we don’t have a clue what tomorrows weather will be (and therefore has the same meaning as the symbol with a few drops of water, or the symbol with a few white “snow” crystals or the symbols with either light or dark grey cotton wool). Therefore, I shouldn’t have been surprised or disappointed when today turned out to be cloudy although I would have preferred to see that yellow disc.

I took a tour to the far north of Akershus to see what the Minnesund area had to offer. With the mild weather there were fewer waterfowl than I had hoped but a vigorously singing Dipper was obviously happy with the conditions. The mild weather meant that there was no ice mist hanging over Mjøsa and I was able to pick out 3 Slavonian Grebes and a Long-tailed Duck at some distance. Whilst watching these a few gulls flew up calling and I suspected a raptor but it wasn’t until a couple of minutes later that I noticed a White-tailed Eagle flying away from me (would have passed quite low of my head if I had been looking in the right direction). Despite these good species the undoubted highlight was a flock of Waxwings feeding on apples. I estimated 30 birds but a check of my photos revealed there were twice as many! They were very confiding and in better light I could have got some great photos as there was lots of interaction between the birds as they quarrelled over feeding rights to the juiciest apples. As it was though I had to use high ISO and low shutter speed so didn’t manage any sharp action shots but video worked better.

I worked my way south along the Vorma and Glomma rivers but found no geese or any large numbers of swans. There were zero gulls at Langvannet (where the Iceland Gull was seen on Saturday) and this led me to hope that there would be god numbers at the tip at Alna. As I drove up there 10 minutes later I could see there were indeed good numbers (well in excess of 200) and nearly the first bird I focused my bins on was a stonking 1st winter Glaucous! It was looking straight towards me and was a dark bird so I waited until I saw it sideways on (to eliminate possibility of a hybrid) before celebrating this surprisingly rare Oslo bird (not quite annual) and sharing the news. I got a phone call from Stig Kalvatn a bit later and it turned out he was there at exactly the same time as me but viewing from a different (and closer) place than me. Just need to relocate the Iceland Gull now and turn up a(nother) Caspian or Yellow-legged to give proper payback for my visits to rubbish tips this winter.

1st winter Glaucous Gull (polarmåke) at the Alna dump

much larger than the Herring Gulls 
surprisingly dark when seen head one but was very pale in flight

squabbling Waxwings (sidensvans) 

Both these Waxwings are adults (red waxy tips to the secondaries) but note how the bird on the left also has red waxy tips to the tail feathers. Both birds have a wide yellow tail band and are therefore both males I think.  I can't remember having seen red waxy tips to tail feathers and Svensson doesn't mention this at all. BWP does however mention that for adult males "shafts near tips sometimes red, occasionally extending laterally into narrow glossy waxy plates"

My only picture of he White-tailed Eagle (havørn) 
Yellowhammer (gulspurv)

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